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Updated on September 27, 2022
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Residential Rehab

What is Residential Rehab?

Residential rehab offers onsite, around-the-clock addiction treatment. People participating in residential programs live at the treatment facility and have access to medical care and support 24 hours a day. 

Residential treatment programs tend to take 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer. These programs offer consistency and continuity. 

Many are comprehensive and provide access to: 

  • Pharmaceutical medications
  • Individual therapy and counseling
  • Aftercare and relapse prevention
  • Family support
  • Post-treatment guidance and support

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Residential Treatment?

Inpatient treatment and residential treatment programs are very similar. 

In inpatient care, participants might be hospitalized early in treatment. They live at the treatment facility and receive 24-hour care and medical attention. 

Residential care also offers 24-hour care, but it tends to be more therapy-focused than hospital-like. 

When deciding whether an inpatient or residential program is right for them, most people consider:

  • Insurance, payment considerations, and options
  • Comorbidities or co-occurring disorders
  • Desire to participate in treatment
  • Physical health

In some cases, inpatient programs address addiction situations that are medical emergencies. Residential treatments, on the other hand, are for people who are ready to seek treatment. They also might not have progressed to the point of extreme physical health problems. 

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What are the Different Residential Treatment Programs? 

There are different types of residential treatment programs. They include:

Long-Term Residential Treatment

Long-term programs provide addiction treatment 24 hours a day, usually in a non-hospital setting. They are often based on the therapeutic community (TC) model of treatment. 

These programs can last for 6 to 12 months and focus on “re-socialization.” The TC approach means that everyone involved, including other residents and staff, are all components of treatment. The goal is to develop personal accountability and responsibility and learn to live a productive life. 

Long-term residential treatment is structured. It involves examining damaging beliefs and learning to adopt new ways of interacting with people. Participants might also have access to employment training and other support services. 

Short-Term Residential Treatment

Short-term programs provide addiction treatment 24 hours a day, but for a shorter length of time. 

These programs typically last a few days, a few weeks, or a month. Most range from 3 to 6 weeks. Participants then move to an outpatient program or self-help group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Most are based on a modified 12-step approach. These shorter programs originally focused mainly on alcohol addiction, but they’ve expanded to include other substances. 

What to Expect During Residential Rehab

The goal of residential rehab is to provide 24-hour support to help participants recover from substance addiction. Most include:

  • Medically supported detox and management of withdrawal, when appropriate
  • Medically supported maintenance care, when appropriate
  • Individual therapy for addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Family counseling
  • Guidance and support to help participants gain the skills needed to thrive in life outside of treatment
  • Follow-up care and relapse prevention

How Long are Most Residential Rehab Programs?

Residential inpatient treatment programs vary in length. There are both short- and long-term programs. Most programs last 30, 60, or 90 days, but there are long-term programs that last 6 months or more.

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How Do Residential and Outpatient Rehabs Compare?

Both residential inpatient treatment and outpatient rehabs provide addiction treatment. Both programs are effective. The right program depends on specific, individual circumstances.

Both types of substance abuse treatment programs have pros and cons. 

When choosing between residential and outpatient rehab, consider:


Residential (inpatient) treatment removes people from their everyday lives. They commit to significant time away from family, friends, school, and work obligations.

Outpatient treatment programs, on the other hand, offer greater flexibility. People undergo treatment during the day for several days a week. Then they go home in the evening.


Outpatient programs tend to cost less than residential programs. Room and board are not needed in outpatient programs, which results in a lower cost.

Home Life

An outpatient treatment program tends to work better for people who have a stable, substance-free home life. Participants need to return to a safe, temptation-free environment at the end of each treatment session.

If you don’t have a stable home environment, residential treatment might be better for you.

Length of Addiction

Residential programs tend to work better for people who have struggled with addiction long-term. This is because these programs help participants learn a new way of living.

Undoing unhealthy patterns and habits takes longer if you’ve dealt with addiction for a long time. The longer the treatment program, the more opportunity you have to relearn damaging behavior.

Co-Occurring Disorders

For some people, residential treatment is better because it provides full-time, comprehensive care for addiction and mental health disorders.

If someone has a mental health disorder linked to their addiction, it can be more effective to immerse themselves in treatment. 

How Much Does Residential Rehab Cost?

Insurance coverage varies from person to person. Some health insurance won’t cover residential or inpatient treatment in full. This typically means outpatient treatment is the only option.

However, by law, insurance providers must provide coverage for addiction treatment. Providers must treat addiction like any other illness. This means if a doctor deems a particular treatment medically necessary, health insurance must provide the same support it would for any other condition.

Treatment programs vary based on:

  • Amenities
  • Location
  • Treatment approach
  • Length of program

The average cost of a 30-day residential inpatient treatment program ranges from $400 to $900 per day. The average total cost of a 90-day residential program ranges from $30,000 to $45,000 or more.

Upscale, luxury programs that take place in a spa-like environment are the most expensive treatment options.

Many outpatient and inpatient rehab programs accept grants, government funding, or scholarships. This means people might have access to treatment for little to no cost. 
Keep in mind: residential inpatient treatment programs tend to cost significantly more than outpatient programs. This is because the cost includes therapy, as well as food, room, board, and miscellaneous expenses.

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Updated on September 27, 2022

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